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Troubled Containership Departs New Zealand After Long Detention

troubled containership departs
Shiling is departing New Zealand escorted by a tug as she heads to Singapore (Maritime New Zealand)

Published Jul 7, 2023 11:49 AM by The Maritime Executive

After being detained in New Zealand for three months due to numerous breakdowns that raised heightened safety concerns, the containership Shiling finally departed Wellington, New Zealand on July 7 after authorities lifted detention orders. Maritime New Zealand announced that the troubled boxship that in recent months had become a source of concern due to recurring engine malfunctions was cleared to depart for Singapore after undergoing repairs and trials designed to ensure it would not break down yet again.

Owing to the numerous times Shiling has experienced engine failures in New Zealand waters, authorities opted to be extra vigilant and the ship’s owner agreed to have the MMA Vision, a vessel capable of emergency towage, escort the containership up to 200 nautical miles off its coast. Singapore, which is the 66,500 dwt vessel’s flag state, has ordered the ship to travel directly to Singapore for permanent repairs.  

Over the last three months, the Shiling broke down twice in and around New Zealand waters. In the first incident in April, the vessel experienced engine failure that saw it drift perilously close to a shallow Wellington Harbor shoal. She was under detention for 24 days and after repairs, the 965-foot ship was cleared to depart only to experience another major incident while still in New Zealand waters.

The Shiling experienced an engine failure again on May 12 this time in heavy seas after transiting the Cook Strait. With the ship rolling heavily, the captain issued a May Day call reporting that the crew of 24 were preparing to abandon ship, but later the seas calmed and the May Day was rescinded. An ocean-going tug working on assignment to the oil and gas industry was able to rescue the ship and bring it into sheltered waters in Tasman Bay on May 13. This led to a tense week before the weather permitted the tow to bring the ship back to Wellington for further repairs.

Before the recent spate of troubles, officials highlight that the Shiling had also had a brief engine stoppage on February 11 in Wellington Harbor. She also suffered an engine failure on July 4, 2022.

After more than another month of detention, while repairs were underway, over the last week and a half, the Shiling has undertaken a range of trials to show it could satisfy the requirements to be released from its detention. “These started with testing the engine alongside the berth at CentrePort, then progressing to harbor trials and finally an open sea trial south of Wellington, with a tug escort throughout,” explained Maritime NZ’s Deputy Chief Executive, Regulatory Operations Deb Despard.

The trials were overseen by the vessel’s classification society. They had also brought in an overseas technician from the main engine manufacturer.

“These played a key role in checking the vessel for issues and reassuring us and other parties involved that the vessel has satisfied the conditions previously imposed and can undertake the journey to Singapore,” Despard added.

The troubled ship departed Wellington at about 3.30 pm this afternoon, July 7 with authorities saying they will continue to monitor its movements out of the country’s waters. The AIS signal shows it is making its way at approximately 10 knots. She is currently expected to reach Singapore on July 24.